Today’s walk climbs through vineyards and woodland for a closer look at 4 of those imposing châteaux (castles) you have likely seen crowning the peaks of the nearby mountains.
As you wander through the fairy-tale streets of Alsace, or skip through the vineyards, it can be easy to forget the region’s turbulent history. As the frontier of the Roman Empire and the border of Germany and France, the Alsatian Plain and Vosges Mountains have regularly become a battlefield. Today’s walk climbs to four châteaux perched high in the mountains, which illuminate this violent past.
The walk quickly leaves the genteel vineyards and begins a twisting and turning ascent through shadowy woodland. Occasional glimpses through the trees reveal Eguisheim and the Alsatian Plain shrinking beneath you, but the first proper viewpoint is Château du Hagueneck. Though this castle is now largely derelict and being reclaimed by nature, the view from the tower remains just as extensive as when it was built 800 years ago. Slightly further on, the ruins of Trois-Châteaux are even more impressive, sufficiently intact for your imagination to wonder how this mighty fortress may have looked, in all its grandeur, before its destruction in 1466.
A descent through woodland and vineyard returns you to Eguisheim, where you’ll no doubt find a greater appreciation for the romantic, peaceful village. As you enjoy your meal or drink tonight, be sure to glance up at the mountains and admire the three castles silhouetted behind the setting sun.
Come prepared with provisions for a picnic. There are several opportunities to stop throughout the walk, though the best are near the Trois-Châteaux!
There are some exposed and unfenced edges throughout the walk; be careful and remain on the path.
There are several stretches where you must walk on the road as there is no pavement. Walk on the left side facing the oncoming traffic unless there is a sharp left bend, in which case you should cross to the outside edge to allow drivers the maximum time to see you.
Some of the path is along rocky steps; be careful as these may be slippery, especially when wet.
Sturdy hiking boots and a waterproof/wind-break layer are required. Walking poles will be a big advantage on some of these ascents and descents.
Ensure your phone is fully charged; if you doubt the battery will last throughout the hike, it might be beneficial to bring a power bank.
Make sure you bring enough water. It is recommended to drink 0.75 litres per 1 hour of hiking in hot weather.
Be sure to bring plenty of sun-cream and a healthy respect for the sun.
Points of Interest
Château du Hagueneck
Climb the tower of Château du Hagueneck to enjoy a commanding view across the Alsatian Plain. With such a wonderful and imposing view, it is perhaps surprising that this castle was built in the 13th century primarily with a residential, and not a defensive, function. That hasn’t stopped it from seeing its fair share of conflict; over the years it has been sieged, burnt, destroyed and rebuilt.
The Trois-Châteaux or three castles of Dagsbourg, Wahlenbourg and Weckmund were built over a period of around 200 years, between the 11th and 13th centuries, with new additions and extensions built to meet increasing military and residential demands. Today they are largely unchanged since 1466 when they were destroyed in the Six Denier War. They are an important symbol of Eguisheim.
Food and Drink
You only pass one village– Husseren-Les-Châteaux – today, after 10 kilometres. Be warned however, that these is no food available here (unless you arrive on a Sunday and want a fancy Sunday lunch at the hotel restaurant). Therefore, be sure to bring enough provisions with you for the walk.
There is nowhere to fill up your water bottles throughout the walk, so be sure to bring plenty of litres with you.
There is a caveau where you can enjoy some wine-tasting in the village.